Durham v Durham MCCU, Chester-le-Street, 3rd Day April 8, 2012

Durham MCCU bowled out for 18


Durham 315 for 4 dec. and 193 for 7 dec. beat Durham MCCU 117 and 18 (Stokes 4-3) by 373 runs

Durham MCCU have been bowled out for 18, the lowest innings total in first-class cricket anywhere in the world since 1983. It equals the tenth lowest score in first-class cricket since 1900.

In a scoreline that will renew the debate over whether such encounters should retain their first-class status, Durham UCCE, missing the injured allrounder Luke Blackaby, were bowled out by Durham in just 101 deliveries. Having been set an improbable 392 to win, it meant the students lost by 373 runs.

The entire game was something of a mismatch. Durham MCCU had been 18 for 6 in their first innings before a late rally lifted them to 117, while Durham declared in both their innings. Ben Stokes, the allrounder who made his debut in England's limited-overs teams last summer, claimed four wickets for three runs in Durham MCCU's second innings as the students collapsed from 15 for 3 to 18 all out.

"It's the worst day we've ever had," Graeme Fowler, the Durham MCCU coach and former England opening batsman told ESPNcricinfo afterwards. "It was dreadful. But, while we've had a nightmare, I hope people remember the good we do for the game. You know Michael Schumacher has the odd car crash: he's still a pretty good driver.

"Don't get me wrong: we were not good enough today. The pitch couldn't have been designed to help the Durham attack any more than it did - the ball was moving all over the place - but we played some soft cricket and the guys have left under no illusions that they have not performed well enough. They are mortified by their performance."

Durham MCCU has an outstanding record of producing cricketers. Their former graduates include Andrew Strauss, James Foster, Ben Hutton and Will Smith and, since their formation in 1997, 53 players have passed through their system and into the professional county game.

Nor are they funded by the ECB. Instead the six MCCU sides - Oxford, Cambridge, Loughborough, Durham, Cardiff and Leeds/Bradford - are funded by the MCC, with each receiving around £75,000 per year. Around 20% of current England-qualified county cricketers have passed through one of the six centres of excellence, with Durham accounting for 8% of them.

"At the time we started, I never thought we should have been given first-class status," Fowler admitted. "It just seemed like we were producing a rod for our own back to judge us by first-class results. That is not really what we are about. I wanted us to play against the counties - that is important - but I didn't see why those games had to be defined as first-class.

"There was already debate about whether Oxford and Cambridge should have first-class status but then they added us to the list and last winter they added Leeds/Bradford and Cardiff, too. I'm not convinced that is the right approach.

"The problem is that if we lose the first-class status we may well lose the funding, too. I just hope that, because of one nightmare performance, people don't forget all the good things we have done for England cricket. Give us half a chance and we'll keep producing players, really good players, and we'll do it on a pretty small budget. Days like this don't help but they shouldn't obscure the bigger picture."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on April 10, 2012, 0:24 GMT

    IMO - these shouldn't be FC matches. It devalues the integrity of FC matches in general. If they HAVE to stay, why not allow a heap of quality imports play for the Uni side to make it more competitive?

  • paul on April 9, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    Philip, durham gave all of the batsmen who hadnt yet batted in the pre season ie mainly the tail enders a bat and left Benkenstein, Mustard and Collingwood to the end. The latter would not have batted though as he had a chest infection.

    PunchDrunkPunter - Harmison doesnt look up to it at the minute and I'm not sure if he will play many games in the new season. He is bowling off a shortened runup now.

  • Dummy4 on April 9, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    In 1922, Hampshire was dismissed for 15 by Warwickshire. They scored 500 plus following on and then won the match comfortably............

  • Dummy4 on April 9, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    You don't have to think back too long to Australia being 21-9 against South Africa... I rest my case

  • Mark on April 9, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    @Adrian. there is a fair bit of jealousy out there about the English 1st Class programme. Not only is it by far the most extensive in the world, it is also by far the best supported and, in CC1 is probably now the highest level of any 1st Class competition in the world. It also generates far more interest than any other 1st Class competition. There will always be freak scores and freak results: they don't invalidate all the other games.

  • Mark on April 9, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    Games against the students serve a useful purpose. County sides get to try out some of their younger players to see if they cut the mustard. University sides get experience of the level and intensity of the professional game. The matches are of higher intensity than normal friendlies because no county side wishes to be embarassed. We tend to forget that Surrey. newly promoted to CC1, missed losing to one of these University sides by just 2 runs a couple of weeks ago.

  • Dummy4 on April 9, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    ..I love following County Cricket..its been a routine for me every year to wait for English and Australian domestic seasons of Cricket to start..any idea of broadcasting deals in India for MCCU matches?? or can i have a look of videos on You tube?? Thanks!

  • Tim on April 9, 2012, 0:44 GMT

    Imagine if Harmison had played!!! Could have been 11 all out!

  • Dummy4 on April 8, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    I see that in Durham's second innings Paul Collingwood was listed to come in at no. 11!. I wonder when he last had that listing?. Obviously to give the others batting practice or he was injured as he got runs in the first dig.

  • Michael on April 8, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    I think Fowler is right. I've heard plenty of sneering about the standard of these matches and of county cricket in general, both from English and overseas observers. But whatever views one has about the attributation of first-class status to these matches, these views should not be formed in response to one batting collapse, however dramatic. This article doesn't mention that the last lower total in first-class cricket anywhere in the world was recored by Surrey in 1983; is anyone suggesting Surrey should be stripped of first-class status because of that? Cricket history is littered with one-sided encounters, and if we are too prissy about standards, the effect is that fewer people play the game.

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